A way above average article

| 149 Comments

It’s always nice when someone who has some clue about the relevant science decides to write an article on the ID issue. I would like to highlight this article by Sanjai Tripathi, a microbiology grad student at Oregon State University. His opinion piece appeared in the OSU Daily Barometer, and no, even though I grew up in Corvallis, Oregon, I didn’t have anything to do with it.

One minor quibble: Tripathi uses the “reducing irreducible complexity” rhetoric. But the core issue is not really whether or not a system is irreducible, it is whether or not a system is unbuildable. This is a very different thing. A system that is currently irreducible for its current function might well be buildable anyway, most obviously via change-of-function. Tripathi talks about change-of-function anyway, so he basically knows what is up. But as a general rule, it is important for ID skeptics to keep in mind that “irreducible complexity” has never received a consistent definition, and that various ID proponents and ID opponents use the term to mean some very different things. See the entry on “definitional complexity” at Evowiki.

149 Comments

He also accidentally said heliocentric instead of geocentric in his round-up of wrong ideas held tenaciously. That seems to be a fairly common mistake (so much so that people following the intent of what is being said may not even notice the slip).

The “definitional complexity” entry at Evowiki says this:

“Dembski produces a massive amount of text to explain what he means by [‘complex’ and ‘specified’]”

I think I just realised where the Dembski boosters have it wrong - he’s the Freud of information theory.

Nick Wrote:

But the core issue is not really whether or not a system is irreducible, it is whether or not a system is unbuildable. This is a very different thing.

Yes, by God, you’ve got it!

But then you go on to say:

A system that is currently irreducible for its current function might well be buildable anyway, most obviously via change-of-function.

“Change of function”, using parts that were not originally designed for that function requires insight. And insight requires intelligence. Nelson’s Law states that “things do not organize themselves without intelligent guidance”. Randomly generated systems do not adapt means to ends, they do not adapt structure and process to function and they do not self-organize. Behe’s mousetrap is unevolvable, not because you can’t take it apart without it losing it’s function, it’s unevolvable because you can’t put it together in the first place using only random, non-directed, accidental occurrences. The selection of the parts, the configuration in which they’re aligned, the assembly into one unit all require intelligent decisions at every step of the way. It’s not that you can’t remove parts and lose total function, it’s that you can’t explain why these particular parts were selected, why they’re integrated together in just such a way and how they were assembled from raw materials without invoking an intelligent agent. Living systems are unevolvable by non-directed processes for the same reason. Living systems are made up of structures and processes integrated in such a way that they not only support each other, but they contribute to the overall function of the living system. This type of organization, in which means are adapted to ends and multiple structures and processes perform multiple functions, all of which contribute to the overall functioning of the organism are unattainable by any kind of random process or chance occurrence. It requires insight and insight means intelligence. There’s simply no way to get around that basic point.

http://www.charliewagner.net/casefor.htm

From this weks “Nature” via “Science Now”

The bunchberry dogwood (Cornus Canadensis) is the quickest gun in the plant world, scientists report 12 May in Nature. High-speed videos reveal that its flowers burst open in less than 0.5 milliseconds. At such speeds, pollen granules shoot up to more than 10 times the height of the flower itself. The impressive launch capability comes from the release of elastic energy stored in the flower stamens, which are designed much like medieval catapults.

Designed? Really.…

Shorter Charlie Wagner:

Evolution can’t happen blah blah blah purpose.

It was stupid the first 10^14 times he said it. He’s the most boring creationist on this site. And he’s refused now, half a dozen times, to answer the very simple question, “Do you believe that the medical community is being dishonest w/r/t cholesterol, blood pressure, and heart disease.” At least that would be amusing. Not the same hand-waving claim, year after year.

Sanjai Tripathi’s article is indeed the best short-form take on IDology I’ve seen.

Charlie Wagner Wrote:

“Change of function”, using parts that were not originally designed for that function requires insight.

…so… mutating requires insight…?

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Charlie Wagner -

““Change of function”, using parts that were not originally designed for that function requires insight. And insight requires intelligence.”

I see no reason to accept this statement. It’s merely an articulate but vacuous “sounds right to me” statement. If I try to brew a batch of beer, and bacteria infect the wort it and spoil it, did they need ‘insight’ to ‘change the function’?

‘Nelson’s Law states that “things do not organize themselves without intelligent guidance”.’

What about all that ice I saw last winter? Every crystal structure is a trivial falsification of this statement, which does not imply that crystals are the ONLY such falsification. This is just a standard misstatement of the thermodynamics, “Nelson” notwithstanding.

‘Randomly generated systems do not adapt means to ends, they do not adapt structure and process to function and they do not self-organize.’

This statement indicates that you do not understand the theory of evolution. Challenge - can you give a brief explanation of the most basic principles of the theory of evolution? That’s not necessarily an easy challenge. However, your reference to ‘randomly generated systems’ indicates a very profound misunderstanding. ‘Behe’s mousetrap is unevolvable, not because you can’t take it apart without it losing it’s function, it’s unevolvable because you can’t put it together in the first place using only random, non-directed, accidental occurrences. The selection of the parts, the configuration in which they’re aligned, the assembly into one unit all require intelligent decisions at every step of the way. It’s not that you can’t remove parts and lose total function, it’s that you can’t explain why these particular parts were selected, why they’re integrated together in just such a way and how they were assembled from raw materials without invoking an intelligent agent.’

At least you’re fair. You misstate and distort creationism as well. This is a NOT the point Behe attempted to make with his ‘mousetrap’ argument. He did NOT make the utterly trivial point that a mousetrap is a human construction which would not ‘evolve’ naturally without human agency, as you do above. He used it an analogy or model of an ‘irreducibly complex’ system. His very point WAS very much that it was ‘irreducible’. He’s been shown wrong in at least two ways - biological systems that appear irreducible need not be unbuildable, as mentioned above, and on a more concrete level, mousetraps themselves aren’t even irreducible. So it was a bad analogy and a false analogy, at the seme time. It was, however, a far more thoughtful point than merely pointing out that some obvious human construction is an example of ‘intelligent design’, which of course, no-one would disagree with.

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““Change of function”, using parts that were not originally designed for that function requires insight. And insight requires intelligence.”

I see no reason to accept this statement.

Nobody does.

steve Wrote:

Nobody does.

Why not? I think he’s made a considerable insight. Living things must have insight to mutate, and we already know that all living things mutate, so all living things must have insight. All living things must also have insight, since they have intelligence. I propose that we throw out evolutionary theory and replace it with something more animistic. And fight for plants’ rights, because they’re insightful, intelligent beings too.

steve Wrote:

“Do you believe that the medical community is being dishonest w/r/t cholesterol, blood pressure, and heart disease.”

For purposes of amusement, I’ll answer that question.

Not “dishonest”.

Misguided.

In short, they’re wrong.

I refer you to: http://www.charliewagner.net where more complete answers can be found.

It’s about time.

So the biologists are wrong about evolution, and the doctors are wrong about diet and the heart. Does it stop there? Or are you aware of other fields which are fundamentally mistaken?

steve Wrote:

are you aware of other fields which are fundamentally mistaken?

Well of course, there’s the cosmologists…

At least 90% of what people tell you in this world is complete horsepookey. My advice to you is: “Believe nothing of what you hear, only half of what you see and question everything.”

You’re dead wrong, Charlie.

Its the doctors who are wrong and know it, while the biologists are wrong but don’t know it. Furthermore, the chemists are wrong, but they are just slightly suspicious about it. And don’t get me started on the geologists. Buncha cretins, those guys.

harold Wrote:

If I try to brew a batch of beer, and bacteria infect the wort it and spoil it,.….

bacteria - ugghhhh! But do the wild yeast spores that ‘infect’ lambics show that G*d is a zymurgist too?

bacteria - ugghhhh! But do the wild yeast spores that ‘infect’ lambics show that G*d is a zymurgist too?

Actually, bacteria are essential in the first phase of brewing lambics. And not just any bacteria: enteric bacteria.

Comment #30149

Posted by Malkuth on May 15, 2005 10:29 AM (e) (s)

steve wrote:

Nobody does.

Why not? I think he’s made a considerable insight. Living things must have insight to mutate

Malkuth, nothing could be further from the truth. Living things don’t need insight to mutate. They need insight to experience differential reproduction. If on organism gets a point mutation which causes sickle-cell anemia, and malaria comes through, the organism won’t survive unless it understands how the variant hemoglobin polymerizes. Because the polymerization can be interpreted as being a function, therefore something has to understand it for it to work. I mean, really. Didn’t you learn Nelson’s Law in Bio 101? it’s like you’re not even trying to understand Charlie’s phenomenal breakthroughs.

Flagella is a trivial case.

Someone explain to me how to build a ribosome via Darwinian mechanisms.

Good luck.

Sanjai Tripathi Wrote:

That anthropomorphic view of the universe has gotten Bible literalists in trouble before. They used to think that the Earth was at the center of the universe. Then, people like Copernicus took a rigorous scientific look through their telescopes, and their carts of what they saw showed that the earth actually rotated around the sun.

They also used to believe that the earth was flat, and only about 5,000 years old, as the Old Testament tells us.

A nit-pick that does not affect Mr. Tripathi’s account of ID:

The earth being at the center of the universe is not a Christian idea per se. It was held by all of the Greek cosmologists from Anaximander to Aristotle, some of whom (e.g., Leucippus, Democritus) were materialists. The roundness of the earth was also accepted from antiquity. Plato, for example, speaks of the earth as a sphere in the Republic.

The young-earth view is not essentially Christian either. It is a 17th-century idea owing to James Usher, Archbishop of Armagh, Ireland. In 1654 Usher used Old Testament geneologies to calculate the number of years from creation to the birth of Jesus. The number he arrived at was 4004 years.

Flagella is a trivial case.

Translation; we shot our load on that one and lost.

Someone explain to me how to build a ribosome via Darwinian mechanisms.

Good luck.

Someone explain to me how to build a ribosome via non-natural intelligent design.

Good luck.

Essentially, this is what *all* ID argumetns boil down to — “evolution can’t explain X, Y or Z, therefore my religious opinions must be right”.

It’s the same old crap that creation ‘scientists’ tried to peddle in court 20 years ago. They were tossed out on their holy little asses. And so will the IDers. I haven’t seen any ID argument yet that wasn’t just cribbed from something ICR was yammering about three decades ago.

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Trilobyte Extinct!

As a scientist I thought I’d try a little experiment. So, I created a userid, Trilobyte, on Dembski’s blog, UncommonDescentIntoBanality and posted a very neutral and possibly humorous one-liner about a funny little video he has of a guy rescuing an antelope from a cheetah.

I closed the lid to the petrie dish and went away for a few days. When I returned, shock-horror!, both my commment and Trilobyte were gone.

R.I.P. Trilobyte, old buddy, you were a good friend.

According to Dembski’s Rules for Comments, I’m boring. QED

———

Ignore Bill Part 2

I was talking with a biologist friend of mine this weekend and I asked him what he thought about all the ruckus in Kansas. What about Dembski and Behe, I pressed, how do you deal with fundamentalist creationists?

He said, “What? Who? I don’t know what you’re talking about.” My biologist friend said that he didn’t see what the big deal was because a) he’s never heard of Dembski or Behe and b) they were irrelevant to his work in wildlife management.

He continued, “They haven’t done any research. They haven’t published any papers, not splitting hairs with the papers they sneaked into obscure journals, there are millions of biologists and zero biological creationists.”

So, you’re saying just ignore them?

“Well,” he mused, “not ignore, exactly, but observe. Study. You know, like Jane Goodall. Document their habitat, track their movements, keep an eye on them. Who knows, you might discover a new species.”

Yeah, I thought, that would be cool. I could see the title appearing in Nature: Primitive Anti-Science Tribe Discovered in Seattle.

I’ll be famous.

Tireless Blowhard,

I usually don’t stoop to respond to your blather, but I’m feeling charitable.

I am a Christian, and a well-read one at that, but any fool (viz., you) can look up ‘young-earth’ or ‘Archbishop Usher’ on google and verify my comment.

The fact that the young-earth position didn’t come about until the 17th-century, and therefore, that Christianity is 17 centuries older than the idea leads to the conclusion that it is not an essential doctrine of Christianity.

Aside from Usher’s dubious method, there is no revealed reason to believe in a young-earth, Morris et al. notwithstanding.

Charlie Wagner -

I see you ignored my challenge. I’ll repeat it, and in fact, although I show up here only randomly, I’ll make an effort to issue it every time I see you. Repeat - can you correctly summarize the basic principles of the theory of evolution? It stands to reason that being able to understand a theory is a prerequisite to criticizing it. Your statements indicate profound misunderstanding of the theory of evolution. Can you prove me wrong?

Not Buyin’ It -

You don’t have to “buy” the theory of evolution. Unlike ID books, it isn’t sold for profit.

“Flagella is a trivial case.”

A trivial case of what? Your logic seems to be “if there is no current evolutionary explanation, then my God must have specifically created it”. That’s poor logic and poor theology (please note right now that my arguments below are in no way intended to ‘deny the existence of God’, and that I consider the ID way of ‘proving’ the existence of God to be a poor one).

1.How do you know an explanation won’t emerge? 2.How do you know good hypotheses about bacterial flagella evolution aren’t already available - do you know anything about the rather substantial field of research on bacterial flagella? 3.If you don’t, why did you mention it? 4.If scientists never explain the evolution of bacterial flagella, does that mean that we should conclude that they were magically created? 5.How does ID explain - details, please - the bacterial flagellum? 6. If the bacterial flagellum was designed, can we tell, using ID theory, whether it was designed by your God, Vishnu, Allah, Gitchi Manitou, Zeus, hyper-intelligent aliens (but then who designed them?) etc? 7. If ID can’t answer question “6”, what good is it? 8. Why do scientists who actually know something about bacterial flagella almost uniformly accept the theory of evolution?

That’s eight questions. However, if your answer to “3” is “I heard that some guy said that he heard from some other guy that evolution can’t explain the flagella (whatever that is)”, please feel free to skip the other seven.

“Someone explain to me how to build a ribosome via Darwinian mechanisms.”

Same questions, substitute “ribosome” for “flagellum”

Comment #30162

Posted by not buyin it on May 15, 2005 12:07 PM (e) (s)

Flagella is a trivial case.

Someone explain to me how to build a ribosome via Darwinian mechanisms.

Good luck.

History of Evolution Denial 1880 “Evolution does not happen” 1990 “Okay, maybe it happens for small changes, but it can’t make IC things like flagella, no way no how.” 2005 “Okay, flagella are trivial, but it can’t make a ribosome…”

Hey, guys with your broken Ironymeters–pull out your Trend Detectors, and see where this is going.

“Change of function”, using parts that were not originally designed for that function requires insight. And insight requires intelligence.

So are you seriously telling me that it took intelligent intervention to change from the flying wings of a bird, to the flying/swimming wings of a seabird, to the swimming flippers of a penguin? Yes or no?

Nelson’s Law states that “things do not organize themselves without intelligent guidance”. Randomly generated systems do not adapt means to ends, they do not adapt structure and process to function and they do not self-organize.

Matzke’s law says that Nelson’s Law is bogus because it invokes pure randomness and doesn’t take into account the anti-randomness of natural selection.

So, I created a userid, Trilobyte, on Dembski’s blog, UncommonDescentIntoBanality and posted a very neutral and possibly humorous one-liner about a funny little video he has of a guy rescuing an antelope from a cheetah.

I closed the lid to the petrie dish and went away for a few days. When I returned, shock-horror!, both my commment and Trilobyte were gone.

R.I.P. Trilobyte, old buddy, you were a good friend.

He’s deleting left and right, even such mild things. Maybe you guys are taking the wrong approach, trying to fly under the radar. Take the opposite tack. Go really flamboyant. See if he’s too stunned to delete usernames like “BillDembski’sABigFag”

not buyin it Wrote:

Flagella is a trivial case.

Someone explain to me how to build a ribosome via Darwinian mechanisms.

Good luck.

Just the other day I was reading Of Pandas and people, which I cannot recommend, even to Pennsylvanian schoolchildren, and after giving short shrift to the RNA World theory the book was running on about non-productive cross-reactions. Then it occured to me: Suppose, as all the available evidence indicates, that there was an RNA World preceding the modern cellular RNA-DNA-protein world. Suppose some collection of RNA developed a detoxification mechanism for removing amino acids from strands of nucleic acid… gosh, wouldn’t that be the very core of a ribosome? And all those protein parts of the ribosome are pasted on the outside, like armor plating, to protect the ribosome from the RNAse built by other ribosomes once protein manufacture evolved to the state of an arms race.

I couldn’t come up with a way to test these ideas, but I don’t see why that should stop me from lobbying school boards to mandate their teaching in the kindergartens.

Lenny Wrote:

Do IDers have any testible scientific explanation for the nature of 95% of the matter and energy in the universe?

If they don’t, they’re not much better off than the evilutionists, are they.

They’re no better off. Both ID and RM+NS are narrative attempts requiring faith in things unobserved to explain empirical evidence. I’m gladdened that we have arrived upon a common ground.

RM+NS claim of “problem solved” is premature to say the least. Just like 20 years ago science thought it had the composition of the universe well characterized. Now it turns out science only had a handle on 5% of it. I give the comologists and theoretical physicists credit though - they don’t deny evidence that contradicts their most cherished theories. If only most theoretical biologists could be as intellectually honest. Gould and Eldredge confronted the uncomfortable fact that the fossil record does not support Darwinian gradualism. Many others have too. G&E are famous for it only because they offered an alternative explanation that still allowed positive atheists to find intellectual fulfullment in it. Since when does empirical evidence require philosophical underpinning before it can be acknowledged? I thought the enlightenment did away with needing such silliness to support observational and experimental evidence. Before the enlightenment evidence needed to be agreeable with religious faith. Today it needs to be copacetic with irreligious faith. What a revoltin’ development.

Russell Wrote:

Now that we’ve clarified “Dembskian mechanisms*”, I await your explanation of how anything at all was built with them.

Every machine in the world from bow & arrow to space shuttle, where the origin can be determined, were built via intelligent design.

We then confront the most complex machinery ever encountered, the machinery of life contained in every living cell, and we assign the cause with Olympian assuredness as unintelligent. I ain’t buyin it.

Bob Mauris Wrote:

As of this writing, we puny humans are the only known intelligent designer to have ever existed. Until such time as convincing evidence for another is presented we puny humans remain, by default at least, the only such entity. Have at it - have you evidence to present?

Is it your position that the earth is a special creation, unique in the universe?

Funny thing is the enlightenment began by abandoning the default position of the earth being a special creation at the center of the universe. Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Intelligence deniers have come full circle back to a default pre-enlightenment position that the earth is special. Just lovely.

Stuart Wrote:

Not buyin it writes Flagella is a trivial case.

Damn, you bloody scientists expalined it

Someone explain to me how to build a ribosome via Darwinian mechanisms.

Now I’ve moved the goal posts.

Good luck.

My goalpost has been the ribosome for 15 years when I realized it resembles nothing else so much as a paper tape reader from the early days of computing. The parallels between computer controlled machinery and DNA/ribosome structure and function are amazing. mRNA serves the same function as random access memory - a faster, volatile media for taking selected bits of non-volatile memory (DNA) to the CPU (ribosome) where it is translated into control signals for the machinery (ribosome + tRNA) that builds proteins.

I can’t imagine a paper tape reader and 3D milling machine arising by unintelligent means. However, I’m open to any detailed description of how it might’ve happened that way. Resorting to unlimited and unobserved powers of RM+NS as an explanation is not acceptable to my way of thinking. It remains a mystery and intelligent design one of the possible explanations.

And just for the record I’ve never said I accepted RM+NS as a proven explanation for flagella. As far I’m concerned the alternative function hypothesis offered for a couple of the irreducible elements is about as convincing as saying a tornado ripping through a pile of refrigerators could produce an automobile. Sure, there’s gears and pistons and wheels and doors in a refrigerator and one could rework the components into an internal combustion driven vehicle but the probability of it happening by chance rearrangment is nigh on impossible. One must first anticipate the automobile then carefully employ preexisting components to produce it. Darwinian evolution does not allow anticipation to enter the equation.

Stuart Wrote:

Its interesting how quickly Not Buyin it retreats to abiogenesis.

I gues he buys evolution, just not abiogeneis, but doesn’t seem to know the difference.

I never retreated to it. That’s been always been where I’ve stood. Anyone that claims evolution and biogenesis are separate matters is disingenuous. Any evolution narrative is not possible or complete without biogenesis. It’s an integral, primary part of the story. It also happens to be the hardest part of the story for RM+NS to explain.

The evidence linking all known forms of life to a common origin is overwhelming. The codon translation table equating AGCT triplets to one of 20 amino acids could have taken on a virtually infinite set of permutations yet all life shares a nearly identical translation table. I need no further evidence to convincce me of linkage between all extant forms of life. There is obviously a common factor. I tend to believe a universal common ancestor is the most likely explanation but I cannot logically rule out a common designer or designers working from the same basic blueprint as an alternate explantion. Most of the ID proponents I respect (Dembski and Behe are well known examples) are of a like mindset in regard to a UCA. I also cannot rule out front-loaded evolution. It remains a distinct possibility that Davison’s equating of ontogenesis and phylogenesis as both front-loaded self-limiting processes with terminal points is quite correct. The parallels he’s drawn between the two are stark and compelling to anyone objective enough to not reject it out of hand due to philosophical and/or personality conflicts. I’ve yet to see any critical review of his PEH based upon empirical knowledge of biology. Surely someone here has the requisite knowledge to pick it apart without ad hominem and philosophical digression yet no one has.

Harold Wrote:

At this point, I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make. I guess it boils down to this - “Intelligent Design” by an unspecified designer is a “possible” explanation for physical things that science can’t yet explain.

BINGO!

Well almost. Science can explain intelligent design if it has enough data to work with. It already attempts explain the evolution of intelligence in the one known instance. There is nothing precluding a scientific explanation for any other instances awaiting discovery.

Nick Matzke - for the record you should stick to geology. Your trifling bit of googling into the RNA World is laughable. I’ve read far more on the subject than you have. I’m curious though why you didn’t resort to your usual tactic of parroting something in the talk.origin faq as a rejoinder? Is it lacking on that subject? Heck, I even quote mined evowiki for you to get you started. What gives?

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Not Buyin’ It -

Alright. My problem with invoking “intelligent design” by an unknown mechanism, by an unknowable designer, is, as I expressed above, that it is a worthless way of addressing any problem, because it can trivially “explain” anything, but actually merely restates our ignorance. I have three questions, and I’d really like you to answer them. Your say…

“Science can explain intelligent design if it has enough data to work with. It already attempts explain the evolution of intelligence in the one known instance. There is nothing precluding a scientific explanation for any other instances awaiting discovery.”

Now here are my questions - 1) How can we test the idea that something was “designed” by an intelligent designer? Please don’t just say that “if we can’t think of some other idea, it must have been designed”. Tell me how we can gather evidence to test the hypothesis that it was designed. Use the prokaryote ribosome if you like. How can we test the hypothesis that it was “designed” against the hypothesis that it originated naturally? Note that ridiculing current hypotheses of how it may have originated is NOT an answer. 2) Why should looking for a conventional scientific explanation be threatening to those who would look for “design”? 3) Why do you use insulting, and if I must say, juvenile language, and make boastful but unbacked claims of superior expertise? These tactics don’t strengthen your position. If anything, the opposite is true. Neither do they indicate a commitment to “Christianity”, if that’s part of your objective - again, if anything, the opposite is true.

Hi everyone- Thanks for reading my column, and I’m happy to see this fairly well-educated debate on this issue. I thought I might jump in. Regarding CW’s assertion about the randomness of evolution, I think that is very revealing of his position. He states that mutation is random, which is qualitatively true (although base pair substitutions and recombination have hot and cold spots). He concedes that natural selection is not random, which is also very true. Yet somehow he puts those together to conclude that evolution is random. How can evolution be random if it incorporates the non-randomness of NS? Briefly, natural selection picks structures that aid fitness. The complex structures we see today evolved from more rudimentary, but still useful forms. This leads to the general complaint from IDers that we haven’t seen and can’t explain the emergence of some structures, like bacterial flagella and ribosomes. To me, this appears to be a rehash of the old “missing link” argument. They used to say that man couldn’t have evolved from apes or there would be half-men half-ape creatures. Then people started digging up numerous fossils of ape-like hominids. The links were no longer missing. The target is moving, and the Trend Detector sees it going back in time. Bacterial flagella are a pretty ancient structure. Even though it certainly shares some components, like an ATPase, with other general ancient enzymes, the intermediary between the common shared parts and the current structure has been lost to time. It is not surprising that we don’t have a fossil or slow evolving relative to demonstrate that neatly for us. Similarly, as far as we know, the ribosomal parts are the first ever genes that life shares from the common ancestor. To say we can’t explain how it emerged is accurate, but neither that nor the flagellum “mystery” is a real problem for evolutionary theory. Mostly today we use comparitive genomics, analyzing sequences from different organisms THAT LIVE TODAY and comparing their similarity, and from this we can infer both the fact of evolution, and its history with shocking precision. The ribosome, specifically the rRNA tree in which every lifeform on earth shares homology, is the strongest evidence I know (from my biased molecular biology perspective) that evolution accounts for the world we observe. Comparitive genomics has lower powers of resolution the further one travels back in time, and it has no power to decipher the origin of of ribosomes, because it relies on comparing present sequences, as nobody bothered to leave us fossilized DNA sequences. But what IDers don’t really like to admit is that this doesn’t damage evolution’s credibility one lick. We don’t know what was before the big bang, we don’t know exactly where George Washington was on May 16th, 1752, nobody was around to film the last eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Yet without actually seeing these take place, and without being able to explain every detail of these things, we have ample enough evidence that they they are all real and thus we teach them in schools without putting stickers on textbooks explaining that astrophysics, history and geology are “controversial and should be considered with an open mind.” Sorry about the long rambling post, but I had a lot on my mind and not much time to type it while I’m supposed to be working :)

Thanks for the article, Sanjai.

one tiny correction:

nobody was around to film the last eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.

Vesuvius finished its last eruption in 1944. You can find a photo here. But, of course, that was before my time so, like evolution, it could all be made up by an evil cabal that wants us to think it erupted that recently!

” But, of course, that was before my time so, like evolution, it could all be made up by an evil cabal that wants us to think it erupted that recently!”

yeah! just like the Apollo moon landings were faked!

;)

not buyin it Wrote:

Both ID and RM+NS are narrative attempts requiring faith in things unobserved to explain empirical evidence.

Ah, but there’s a crucial difference. RM+NS make testable predictions that could result in falsification. So far, RM+NS have survived all such tests.

ID, on the other hand, appears to make NO such predictions. At least, I have yet to hear of one; perhaps you can enlighten me?

Your above point is true only in the relatively trivial sense that we can never prove with absolute certainty that RM+NS explains every single step leading from the first organic self-replicating systems to the current diversity of life. Duh. If you want to insist, for example, that an intelligent black monolith played a crucial role in human origins, a la 2001, no one will ever be able to prove beyond all doubt that you are wrong.

That doesn’t change the fact that “RM+NS” is the only consistent, evidence-based, scientific theory capable of accounting for what we observe. It’s not even a case of RM+NS being the ‘best’ scientific theory - it’s the only scientific theory we have!

Or do you disagree? Is there another explanation that is actually scientific and supported by evidence? If so, I’d love to hear all about it. Note that ID doesn’t qualify unless you can describe some of the testable predictions that it’s made and passed.

You boys need to get your stories straight.

Yea, right, whatever.

Answer my damn questions.

Secular humanism is defined by Princeton’s Wordnet as anyone that rejects religion and the supernatural. I may have bet wrong. Do you reject the supernatural?

I’m not an atheist. (shrug)

But I’m now curious, so I will ask yet another question (which of course you will also not answer):

Creationists and IDers have testified, in court, under oath, that creation “science” and intelligent design “theory” are SCIENCE, and have NO religious aims, effect or purpose, and do NOT have the goal of either advancing or supporting religion or religious beliefs. If that is true (and of course I think creationists/IDers are flat-out lying to us when they claim that), then you simply have no reason – none at all whatsoever – to talk about God or the Bible or faith or Christianity or atheism or supernaturalism or any other religious opinion.

So why are you?

Or are IDers just lying to us when they claim that creation “science” and intelligent design “theory” are SCIENCE, and have NO religious aims, effect or purpose, and do NOT have the goal of either advancing or supporting religion or religious beliefs …

Re; all the statements made by IDers here about “god” and “the supernatural”:

Ya know, the thing I really don’t understand is how the fundies can POSSIBLY be so stupid about this as they are here on this list … They KNOW that their heroes are in court right now trying to argue that creationism/ID is SCIENCE and has NO RELIGIOUS PURPOSE OR AIM. They KNOW that if the courts rule that creationism/ID is NOT science and IS nothing but religious doctrine, then their crap will never see the inside of a science classroom. So they must KNOW that every time they blither to us that creationism/ID is all about God and faith and the Bible and all that, they are UNDERMINING THEIR OWN HEROES by demonstrating, right here in public, that their heroes are lying under oath when they claim that creationism/ID has NO religious purpose or aims.

So why the heck do they do it ANYWAY? Why the heck are they in here yammering about religion when their own leaders are trying so desperately to argue that ID/creationism is NOT about religion? Are the creationists in here really THAT stupid? Really and truly?

Any IDer or creationist in here, how about answering that question for me. Why are you in here arguing that ID/creationism is all about God and the Bible, while Discovery Institute and other creationists are currently in Kansas and Dover arguing that ID/creationism is NOT all about God and the Bible?

Why are you **undercutting your own side**????????

I really truly want to know.

Well almost. Science can explain intelligent design if it has enough data to work with. It already attempts explain the evolution of intelligence in the one known instance. There is nothing precluding a scientific explanation for any other instances awaiting discovery.

So when do IDers plan to quit waving their arms and just show us their damn “scientific explanation”.

Or are they (and you) just lying to us when they claim they have one?

“So why the heck do they do it ANYWAY?”

uh, to quote a bit of pablum:

“Stupid is as stupid does”

Not Buyin´ it? What the…I´m calling Proud Waterfront Property Owner.

Good job pastor. Not Bein Smart is very definitely DaveScat.

DaveScat: “1) DNA stores specifications for 3-dimensional parts (folded proteins) in a well understood format of sequential base-pair triplets (codons) each specifying one of 20 amino acids plus stop/start codons.”

Not Bein Smart: “The codon translation table equating AGCT triplets to one of 20 amino acids could have taken on a virtually infinite set of permutations yet all life shares a nearly identical translation table.”

DaveScat: “Is anyone going to step up to the plate and fathom a guess at my question of how the organisms with deviations from the standard codon->acid translation table managed to survive the mutation?”

Syntax Error: mismatched tag at line 5, column 124, byte 351 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.12.3/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187

Argh, pitch in a “/” there, somewhere…it´s getting too late for formatting properly, dammit.

Well, I can´t sleep, and there´s time for one more…and as Winston Churchill said about cigars: “They´re gamier when resurrected”:

DaveScat: “Is anyone going to step up to the plate and fathom a guess at my question of how the organisms with deviations from the standard codon->acid translation table managed to survive the mutation?”

Yawn. Suppressor tRNAs.

Good job pastor. Not Bein Smart is very definitely DaveScat.

I don’t care if he’s Jesus Christ Himself come down from heaven.

I want answers to my questions.

Ok for those that don’t know anything about Charlie Wagner let me inform you.

Charlie isn’t a creationist. He believes that all life on Earth was designed by aliens. 1. These aliens are not supernatural 2. These aliens have always existed, thus never needed to be designed themselves. 3. These aliens are the most complex entities in the universe, since according to him 4. Something can not create something more complex then itself. 5. The universe has always existed.

Comment # 3841

charlie wagner Wrote:

Comment #3841 Posted by charlie wagner on June 15, 2004 08:24 AM The First Cause problem stems from the knowledge that everything in the world has a cause. Because of this, you eventually must come to a primary cause, which religions call God. But this begs the question: “who made god?”. If everything must have a cause, then God too must have a cause. Religion says: “not so, God has always existed.” and leave it at that. But I contend that if there is anything in the universe without a cause, it might as well be the universe itself, rather than God. Since I don’t believe in God, there’s anly one option as far as I can see: the universe and the life in it have always existed. There’s simply no reason for thinking that the universe had a beginning. Cosmologists seem to have an even different view. They claim that the universe came into existence without a cause. It’s really only poverty of our limited human imagination that everything must have a beginning.

Charlie, even as a biology teacher, seems to not grasp that random changes can produce functions. We’ve pointed out many instances where random changes with environmental pressure will produce functions that where not “designed” by any intelligence.

He also shows a bad grasp of even the most basic cosmology. While some theories suggest that the universe may in fact me infinitely old it doesn’t imply that the universe has been habitable for an infinite amount of time.

TrackBack

My Ware Farms blog doesn’t have this feature so I’ll just mention my post http://warefarms.blogspot.com/2005/[…]i*on*id.html Sanjai Tripathi on ID in this comment. (replace * with -)

One of my favorite blogs about evolution, The Panda’s Thumb, had a post about an article by Sanjai Tripathi in the Oregon State Daily Barometer which he titled, “ID for faithful, evolution for scientists.”

TrackBack

My blog doesn’t have this feature so go to Ware Farms and look for: Sanjai Tripathi on ID which starts:

One of my favorite blogs about evolution, The Panda’s Thumb, had a post about an article by Sanjai Tripathi in the Oregon State Daily Barometer which he titled, “ID for faithful, evolution for scientists.”

“There’s simply no reason for thinking that the universe had a beginning.”

Classic Charlie Wagner–ignorant and assertive.

ARG Sorry about the mess. I kept getting errors due to the dashes in the URL thingie and my attempts to get passed it. I’ll know better next time. BW

f’in spammers

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This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on May 15, 2005 2:56 AM.

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